INDIAN OCEAN (NNS) – Sailors on board the USS Ashland (LSD 48) showed their support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community by celebrating LGBT Pride Month with a cake-cutting ceremony on the mess decks, June 20.
The event featured poetry, a video presentation, stories of courage, and a personal story by special guest speaker Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Roxanne Gutierrez.
“It’s different in every command I have gone to that has celebrated it. This is the first command that educates the audience fully and shows them where we’ve come from and what it took to get to where we are today,” said Gutierrez “It’s like every other movement in history, we are in its infancy right now and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Deshawn Mcgowan, who shared poetry revealed why it’s important to recognize the movement and what it means to him.
“It’s a month to really acknowledge how far we’ve come as people, how far I’ve come, it wasn’t always easy being this open as I am right now about it,” said Mcgowan. “I feel like everybody deserves to be treated fairly and not just based on sexual preference and what they like or just judged period, equality is what it means for me.”
“I see LGBT month ten years from now being like Black History month and Asian Pacific Islander month, I feel like it will be something that won’t be the big elephant in the room nobody wants to talk about, eventually it will be an educational piece where we talk about the past and years from now I can say hey I spoke up and I was a part of history, ”said Gutierrez.
The event gave Sailors a chance to show their support of LGBT Pride Month and learn about the progress being made towards equality, while highlighting the importance of diversity in the U.S. military.
The LGBT Pride celebration concluded with a speech by Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Daniel P. Duhan and a prayer from Chaplain Lt. Stephan Merlin.
Ashland is assigned to the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group and is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.